Trailblazing Tails

Trailblazing Tails

February 1st, 2013 Mary Beth Torgerson in Getout Running

Not all dogs are born to run, but the right dog with the right training can become the perfect workout partner - reliable, motivated and full of energy. Besides the benefits for you (a worn-out dog is a good dog), your pooch will get some much-desired exercise and quality time outdoors, which has been proven to help keep their hearts, lungs and joints healthy.

Here are 7 helpful tips to get started training with man's best running partner:


1 Ask the Professionals

Don't begin a workout program with your dog before talking with a veterinarian. Since dogs can't complain, they might have a health problem that you may not know about. Make sure to wait until your dog is at least 1.5 years old to be sure its bones have reached full maturity. Likewise, you should consult a vet before running with a dog that is 7 years or older.

2 Start off slowly

Although dogs have a lot of energy, it doesn't mean that they can run for miles without training. Just like any human who hasn't exercised in a while, dogs need to work their way up to running longer distances. Plus, if your dog is used to running around on the cushy grass, their paw pads will need time to toughen up in order to take a long run on the pavement.

3 Watch for Overheating

Pay attention to your dog's physical cues to insure that it doesn't overheat or dehydrate. Be familiar with the signs of fatigue or heat illness, which include panting, slowing down, foaming at the mouth, weakness, inability to stand, uncontrolled movement, agitation and glazed eyes. If you notice any of these signs, cool your dog immediately by thoroughly wetting him with cold water and getting him into the shade. Always give your pet water before and after a run, and teach him to drink out of a bottle or bring a portable water dish if you are planning on running a long distance.

4 Don't let them run wild

An untrained dog isn't a fun running companion and can easily put you both in danger if he decides to dart toward a car or another animal. Keep your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and make him run at your speed. In your left hand, hold the leash close to your dog's harness (a harness is better for your dog to avoid damage to their trachea). In your right hand, hold the slack. Keep the leash as loose as possible because a tight leash will make them more likely to try to resist.

5 Sh*t happens

Be courteous and keep baggies on hand to clean up after your dog. You can also purchase a lightweight doggy backpack so you don't have to run with a full bag until you find a garbage can. If your dog tries to stop every few minutes to sniff for a perfect spot, simply give him a firm "No!" and pull him back on track. Many dogs will try to stop and mark their territory several times along the route, but if you don't have to urinate every 5 minutes, neither does your dog. When you need to take a breather, you can let your dog stop and do the same.

6 Keep paws clean

Inspect your dog's pads before and after a run to make sure there is no sign of debris or cuts. Thoroughly clean the paws with a warm, soapy rag after your run to be sure to avoid any irritation or infection from anything they might have picked up along the way. Also be sure to stop and inspect your dog's pads on hotter days - the asphalt isn't hot to you in your sneakers, but a dog can easily burn its pads on pavement.

7 Know your breed

Certain breeds of dogs are better suited for running than others. For example, dogs with flat noses such as pugs or bulldogs, can have trouble breathing during strenuous exercise. When in doubt, be sure to research and ask your vet for clearance before running with your pet.

Not all dogs are born to run, but the right dog with the right training can become the perfect workout partner - reliable, motivated and full of energy. Besides the benefits for you (a worn-out dog is a good dog), your pooch will get some much-desired exercise and quality time outdoors, which has been proven to help keep their hearts, lungs and joints healthy.

10 Breeds to Consider

German Shepherd ' Siberian Husky ' Golden Retriever

Weimaraner ' Jack Russell Terrier ' Standard Poodle

Airedale Terrier ' Rhodesian Ridgeback ' Alaskan

Malamute ' Dalmation